After spending all week worrying about events off the field, Maccabi Tel Aviv is
now left to ponder whether it might be in over its head in the Europa League
group stage after being thrashed 5-1 by Besiktas JK on Thursday night in
Despite the escalating crisis between the Israeli and Turkish
governments, there was no fan trouble at Inonu Stadium, although several hundred
demonstrators protested with Palestinian flags outside the stadium during the
The Turkish police ensured that Maccabi’s safety was never under
any threat, but Tel Aviv’s defense failed to similarly protect its goal, and
Moti Ivanir’s players suffered a humbling defeat.
third-minute opener was the last thing Maccabi needed at such an early stage of
the match, and the Portuguese striker doubled Besiktas’s lead in the 28th
Roei Kehat’s goal three minutes into the second half gave the
visitors some hope, but Mehmet Aurelio (50) and Egemen Korkmaz (53) quickly
ensured that the three points would remain in Istanbul, and Edu’s 88th minute
strike piled the misery on Maccabi, which is expected to have an equally
difficult time when it hosts Dynamo Kiev in its next group match in two weeks’
Kiev drew 1-1 with Stoke City on Thursday in Group E’s other
While Maccabi always knew that it would struggle in Turkey, Hapoel
Tel Aviv was a firm favorite to defeat Rapid Bucharest in its group opener on
Thursday, only to fall to a bitterly disappointing 1-0 loss at Bloomfield
Ovidiu Herea scored the only goal of the match in the 55th
minute, but Hapoel coach Dror Kashtan managed to see the positive side of the
“I’m certainly disappointed,” Kashtan said. “But the
Romanians only reached one chance in the match and they played very ugly soccer.
We dominated the match, but their goalkeeper [Danut Coman] had a great
Hapoel’s defeat seriously complicates its situation in Group C and
it can’t afford another loss at Legia Warsaw in its next match in two weeks
Warsaw lost 1-0 to PSV Eindhoven on Thursday.
Maccabi Haifa saved Israeli pride later Thursday, defeating AEK Larnaca 1-0 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium in its Group J opener. Mohammad
Ghadir scored the winner in the 54th mintue and ensured that Israeli
soccer had something to smile about after Tel Aviv's big two lost.
The yellow-and-blue got off to the worst possible
start in Turkey.
Aurelio’s through ball caught Tel Aviv’s defense
completely off guard and Almeida coolly lobbed the ball over Guy Haimov’s head
to give Besiktas an early opener.
The yellow-and-blue’s defense simply
couldn’t handle Almeida at the beginning of the encounter and the Portuguese
striker doubled the hosts’ lead in the 28th minute.
pass from the left flank left Almeida with only Haimov to beat, and despite
saving the striker’s first attempt, the Maccabi ’keeper was soon picking the
ball out of the back of the net after Almeida headed in the
Maccabi coach Moti Ivanir, who was handed a three-match sideline
ban following Tel Aviv’s playoff tie against Panathinaikos, decided to take a
chance in the second half, introducing forwards Eliran Atar and Barak Itzhaki
from the bench in an attacking substitution.
Three minutes after the
break Ivanir looked like a genius, with Atar sending an excellent cross from the
left and Kehat heading Maccabi back into the game.
However, within five
minutes, Tel Aviv’s hopes were dashed, with the Turks scoring two goals that
left Ivanir’s substitutions looking reckless.
In the 50th minute, Manuel
Fernandes’s free kick from the right was headed in by an unmarked Aurelio, and
three minutes later Korkmaz’s diving header ended any lingering hope Tel Aviv
may have had of leaving Istanbul with a point.
Edu poured salt on
Maccabi’s wounds with a fifth goal two minutes from time, leaving Tel Aviv with
plenty to mull over ahead of its next Europa League match against Kiev in two
At Bloomfield, Hapoel struggled to break down the Romanians
defense and when it finally managed to, it couldn’t beat Coman.
minutes, the Bucharest ’keeper did well to keep out Toto Tamuz’s header and
somehow Maharan Lala and Tamuz failed to tuck in the rebound from the
Eight minutes later, Mirko Oremus spotted Tamuz on the edge of
the area, but his powerful effort was cleared by Coman.
Ten minutes into
the second half, Bucharest struck on the break.
Herea was left unmarked
in the Hapoel box and the midfielder headed in his third goal in four
Tel Aviv’s response was disappointing, with Kashtan’s men not
reaching a good chance to equalize until the 87th minute when substitute Salim
Toama had time and space inside the Rapid box, only to send a powerful shot
straight at the excellent Coman.
Avihai Yadin and Rapid’s Romeo Surdu
were sent off in the 90th minute after kicking each other, and Hapoel players
knew it wasn’t their day after Coman saved Tamuz’s close-range shot in stoppage